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Friday, 5 February 2021

Punjab and Haryana High Court cuts penalty on petty farmers

Saurabh Malik

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4

Alive to the plight of two "petty farmers with meagre land holdings", the Punjab and Haryana High Court has come to their rescue by reducing the penalty imposed on each of them from Rs 2 lakh to Rs 5,000.

The penalty was slapped on them after their son, undergoing life sentence, failed to surrender after the expiry of three-week parole as he was arrested in some other case.

Referring to the mitigating circumstances explained in the petition, Justice Arvind Singh Sangwan set aside the penalty of Rs 2 lakh each imposed by Panipat District Magistrate and subsequent conditional order passed by the Additional Sessions Judge directing the petitioner-parents to pay reduced amount of Rs 50,000 each.

Before passing the order, Justice Sangwan took into consideration the facts that the petitioners were aged, their financial condition was not good, life convict Pawan stood arrested in another case and had surrendered before the jail authorities, the petitioners were petty farmers having meagre land holdings and the Covid situation was prevailing in the country.

Justice Sangwan also took into consideration a judgment rendered by the High Court before granting the petitioners three months' time to deposit the reduced penalty. The relief for the petitioners came even though they were unrepresented by any lawyer as the advocates were abstaining from work while seeking the resumption of physical hearing in the High Court.

Going into the background of the matter, Justice Sangwan observed the record had it that life convict Pawan was released on parole in accordance with order dated June 11, 2019, passed by Hisar Divisional Commissioner. He was directed to surrender on July 24, 2019. But he failed to do so on the specified date. Later, he was found to be arrested in some other case and was in jail.

The petitioners stood surety for him by furnishing surety bonds of Rs 2 lakh each. The penalty of the same amount, imposed after their son's failure to give up, was directed to be recovered as arrears of land revenue. The amount was reduced to Rs 50,000 by the Additional Sessions Judge with a direction to deposit it within a month.

Justice Sangwan also took note of the petitioners' contentions that the mother was an old woman without independent source of income and father is a retired military personnel owning only 1.25 acres.

from The Tribune

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